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Toothpaste Facts

3 August 2020

Toothpaste

Toothpaste is something that most of us just idly toss into our shopping trolley when we are doing the rounds at the super market, probably not giving it a second thought. But toothpaste has a fascinating history and is subject to debates about which of the huge variety of styles is preferable.

On the pages of this site you can find out about what goes into toothpaste, how it is best to use it and what oral health issues you will be avoiding by buying the right toothpaste and using it effectively. You can also find information about the use of fluoride; still a controversial issue for some.

We all have our own home oral hygiene routine but when is it best to brush your teeth? You’ll find handy hints and more in these pages, so read on to find out more information about toothpaste. Who, knows? Next time you are shopping and you come across the toothpaste aisle you might just look at them all a little differently!

How does toothpaste work?

Toothpaste works in a number of ways to achieve specific goals:

Food debris and plaque removal is achieved by the detergent and abrasive ingredients in toothpaste. The detergent neutralises the food debris and the abrasives remove the plaque which otherwise sticks to the surface of teeth.

Toothpaste freshens the breath by removing the food debris and bacteria which cause bad breath. The flavouring of toothpaste ensures that the mouth is infused with a more pleasant smell.

Protection against plaque is ensured by the fluoride which helps strengthen enamel, thus protecting teeth from future decay. Brushing your teeth also stimulates the production of saliva so that the mouth is moist, making it harder for plaque to stick to teeth.

Of course the motion of actually brushing is crucial to this process too. If you just put toothpaste into your mouth and didn’t rub it into your teeth, the effects would only be limited. The abrasives need to be rubbed onto the surfaces of your teeth and saliva is best stimulated by the motion of brushing.

It is important to spread the toothpaste around your mouth while you are brushing so that the active ingredients can work on all of your teeth.

How should I brush my teeth?

Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for about three minutes in total. You should be careful to brush all of your teeth, including the inside of them and those at the very rear of the mouth. This is to ensure that plaque and food debris is removed.

Plaque is a substance formed every time you eat or drink, particularly substances which contain a lot of sugar and starch. If plaque is allowed to stay on your teeth it can have consequences for your oral hygiene. Plaque attacks the hard, protective enamel which coats your teeth and leaves them open to decay. Without functioning enamel, small holes can appear in your teeth which will need to be filled. In severe and advanced cases, teeth may need to be removed because they have broken down beyond the point where they can be restored.

Gum disease can also be caused by plaque in the mouth. If plaque remains on the gum line of teeth it can cause gingivitis. This is where the gums become inflamed and you will experience reddening of the gums and some sensitivity. The inflammation can spread to the bones holding teeth in place; a condition called periodontitis. This is a leading cause of tooth loss and is very painful indeed.

These are the reasons why should brush your teeth with care to remove as much plaque as possible. Dentists recommend that toothpaste fortified with fluoride can help too as it strengthens the enamel which protects teeth. You should be careful not to brush too vigorously though as this can actually damage the enamel. The same can be said if you tend to brush your tongue to remove bad breath-causing bacteria which can gather there: your tongue is sensitive so don’t brush it too aggressively.

In summary: brush for about three minutes, not too vigorously, making sure that you cover all areas of your mouth and use a fluoride toothpaste!

How should I take care of my teeth?

Using the right toothpaste is only one part of taking excellent care of your teeth. And taking care of your teeth is worth doing so that you don’t develop gum disease or dental decay and have to have teeth removed.

Brushing your teeth has to be done correctly for it to remove the plaque that will be on your teeth. You should brush at least twice a day, using a fluoride enriched toothpaste. When you brush, do it for about three minutes and be sure to cover all areas of your mouth.

You should remember to floss between your teeth as well. Flossing is very important for the health of your mouth as it removes plaque and debris from the parts of your mouth that your toothbrush will not be able to reach. It might be a little painful if you haven’t done it before, as the floss might lacerate the gums between the teeth. But this should stop after a few times as the gum there becomes hardened.

The aim of brushing and flossing is of course the remove as much plaque as possible from the mouth. Plaque left on teeth can cause cavities to form which will need to be filled. Gum disease can result from plaque too and this is a greater cause of tooth loss than dental decay itself. Your gums will become inflamed if plaque is left on the gum line of teeth. This inflammation can then spread to the bones holding teeth in place.

It is helpful then to try and eat less of the food and drink which cause the most plaque to be produced. It is sugary and starchy substances which create the most plaque in the mouth. While we all know about sweets and soft drinks, some will be surprised to hear that fruit is also a significant producer of plaque too. Fruit is otherwise very healthy and should not be avoided but you might want to consider eating a little cheese or milk after fruit; dairy products help to remove some of the plaque.

It is no wonder then that some people choose to brush their teeth after meals too. Chewing chewing gum can be helpful in situations where brushing is not possible but you want to do something to remove some of the plaque after eating a meal. The motion dislodges some of the plaque and debris and the stimulus that chewing gives to saliva production, helps your mouth’s natural defences.

The best piece of advice when it comes to taking care of your teeth is to get into the habit of visiting your dentist every six months. Allowing your mouth to be thoroughly checked over by a dedicated and trained expert is a vital part of your oral hygiene routine. Sometimes there might be a problem with your teeth or gums that you simply haven’t noticed; your dentist will be able to spot it and deal with it immediately. Things like plaque build ups and basic gum disease are not serious in themselves and can be dealt with easily. But if they progress then the consequences can be much worse and the conditions become more difficult to treat. So book an appointment to see your local dentist today!

Should I use mouth wash too?

Many people like to use mouth wash as part of their home dental hygiene routine. It is a liquid substance that is taken into the mouth in a small amount, swilled around and then usually gargled with. It is then spat away and the mouth thoroughly rinsed.

The benefits are obvious: freshening of breath and removal of debris left behind by brushing alone. But the story of mouth wash is a little more complicated than that.

Mouth wash contains antiseptic which kills all bacteria in the mouth. Unfortunately, mouth wash is unable to discriminate between good bacteria and bad bacteria and so the good bacteria are killed too. Mouth wash leaves the mouth rather dry, so it might get rid of the bacteria that cause bad breath but it actually leaves the mouth in an ideal condition for it to come back! Bacteria find it much easier to stick to dry teeth.

If you are suffering from gum disease it might be recommended that you use a specially formulated mouth wash. But it should only be done sparingly, to avoid the above problem.

Mouth wash is available in a great variety of styles and flavours, some which colour the left over debris, allowing you see it highlighted when you rinse out your mouth. They can be purchased in most pharmacies and super markets.

Toothbrushes: Which one to choose?

Choosing the right toothbrush and then using it effectively is just as important as getting the right toothpaste for your needs. There are many toothbrushes available, as just a quick look at the relevant shelves in a super market will show you. You should talk to your dentist to get the right advice about which one is right for you, but read on for some tips and information.

Manual toothbrushes are the most common variety, consisting of a long handle and at one end a set of bristles mounted on the side of the flattened shaft. They are available in a wide number of colours and designs with different shaped heads and flexible shafts. Electric toothbrushes represent a generally far more expensive option and they too come in a wide range of designs that are commonly available.

Many dentists recommend electric toothbrushes as being more efficient at cleaning teeth properly because of the vibrating and rotating motion that they achieve. However this is to abrasive for some people who have sensitive teeth and gums. Electric toothbrushes are rechargeable, via either shaving points or electric mains.

Special brushes are available for children, often with softer bristles. Children can be rather vigorous when they brush so softer bristles can be useful because they lessen the chance of damage being sustained to the teeth as a result of aggressive brushing. Many children’s brushes have colourful designs, sometimes featuring popular cartoon characters to encourage children to get into the habit if brushing.

Dentists recommend that you change your brush when the bristles start to become frayed. They lose effectiveness when this happens and you might not be doing your m

What are the different types of toothpaste and how do they work?

There is a variety of different toothpaste available for sale, some of which are designed with specific functions in mind. Here is a list of some of them, which explains what their functions are and how they differ from one another:

Children’s toothpaste usually contains less fluoride than those designed for adults. This is because of the risk posed by children ingesting too much fluoride. Children’s toothpaste often has fewer abrasives in it so that the product is gentler on the sensitive teeth of youngsters. It is common for this toothpaste to be flavoured in such a way as to make brushing appeal to children. You should monitor your child’s brushing to ensure that they are not being too vigorous and that they are brushing all areas of their mouth adequately. Any oral health problems developing in children might have an impact on their mouth for the rest of their life. For very young children there is even toothpaste which is completely free from fluoride because of the heightened risk it can pose to those who are under eighteen months of age.

Smokers’ toothpaste is specifically designed for those who smoke tobacco. Smokers often find that their teeth become stained because of the process of drawing tobacco smoke into their mouths. Over time teeth become tainted with brown patches because of the tar. Toothpaste for smokers usually contains certain agents which remove these stains, leaving teeth looking whiter.

Teeth whitening toothpaste works in a similar way to smokers’ toothpaste. It contains substances which help to maintain the whiteness of teeth. It is more effective to have teeth whitening treatment either at the dental surgery or administered by yourself at home, but using teeth whitening toothpaste has some effect of removing stains and is cheaper than treatment. These toothpastes can be rather abrasive however and are not recommended for children or those with sensitive teeth.

Toothpaste for sensitive teeth contains potassium nitrate which can help to reduce the sensitivity which many people feel in their teeth when they eat or drink hot or cold substances. Usually there is a root cause for this sensitivity like receding gums or damage to enamel and it is best to sort out whichever problem is underlying the sensitivity. In the meantime, toothpaste for sensitive teeth can be effective.

Herbal toothpaste is an increasingly popular option for a number of reasons. Some people are sensitive to some of the ingredients in regular toothpaste and opt for the greater gentleness’ offered by herbal toothpaste. They also appeal to those who are concerned about the environment because they use only natural ingredients. Some of these toothpastes even contain no fluoride, popular in areas which have a high amount of fluoride in the water supply. But dentists always recommend that toothpaste with fluoride is used in order to protect enamel and strengthen teeth.

The array of toothpaste on offer can be bewildering. The best advice is to ask your dentist for his or her opinion. They know your mouth better than anyone else and they can point you in the direction of a toothpaste which will suit you and your oral hygiene needs.

Mouth any good by using a toothbrush with bristles which are frayed. Effective brushing relies on a good, stiff set of bristles to scrub your teeth clean off debris and plaque.

The best advice is to talk to your dentist about which brush might be best for you and your circumstances. Generally it is accepted that brushes with smaller heads – whether electric or manual – are more effective because they are less restricted in terms of their reach and can squeeze into tight areas of your mouth.

What are the facts about fluoride?

Fluoride is a substance that is added to most toothpaste and dentists recommend that it be used by all adults. However, there is still some controversy about its use and an increasing number of toothpastes are now available without fluoride, not to mention the various campaigns to stop fluoride being added to tap water.

Fluoride has long been seen as a useful part of dentistry because it actively strengthens the enamel which coats teeth. Enamel is a hard substance which helps defend teeth from the attacks of plaque which otherwise would cause cavities to form and the nerves inside teeth to be interfered with. The use of fluoride has been shown to reduce instances of tooth decay by between forty and sixty per cent by strengthening the enamel on teeth.

Fluoride can be found in many toothpastes and is also added to the water supply so that we can consume fluoride when we drink from the tap. Despite the benefits for enamel and oral hygiene, fluoride is a controversial issue for some. There have been a number of claims over the years that fluoride is actually harmful to humans. It is true that a condition called dental fluorosis can affect young children who consume too much fluoride but this is extremely rare as the quantities needed to bring on the condition are very large.

Most experts agree that fluoride is not dangerous to human beings and around three hundred million people consume fluoride every day in the tap water they drink. However, it is advised by dentists that the very young do not use fluoride toothpaste but for anyone over two years old, fluoride has been consistently shown to be extremely beneficial in strengthening teeth.

Fluoride is available as a supplement for those whose tap water contains a lower quantity of fluoride. Dentists recommend that people don’t restrict themselves to drinking only bottled water as this doesn’t contain fluoride.

Ultimately whether you choose to use fluoride is your decision and the proliferation of fluoride free products now widely available means that you really do have the choice. But remember that dentists recommend its use and brushing with a fluoride enriched toothpaste has been proved to increase the strength of your teeth and mean that dental decay is less likely to occur.

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